The Montreal connection
KIRBY, John. Narrative of the Wreck and Loss of the Ship Albion of London, John Kirby, Commander, formerly of Seaton, near Stockton on Tees, Durham; now of 34, Paradise Street, Rotherhithe. The veracity of this Narrative is attested and Sworn to by the Three Survivors, viz. John Kirby, Commander; Nicholas Anderson, Second Mate; and William Thompson, Seaman; the two latter before Mr. Clark, Mayor of Liverpool, and the Captain before T. Smith, Lord Mayor of London. The Circumstance of her being found at Sea, is thus related in a Liverpool Paper, on the arrival of Captain Jackson of the Brig Shaw, at that Port. 5th April, 1810. “The Brig Shaw, Capt. Jackson, which arrived here on Wednesday, brings the following Melancholy account, on the 15th ult. in Lat. 37.30 N. Long. 42.20 W. a Sail hove in sight at S.E. with only her Foremast and Bowsprit standing, she proved to be the ship Albion, Captain Kirby of London, from New Brunswick, which on the 5th February was upset by a heavy gale of wind, but some time after righted. The surviving part of the Crew (the Captain and 2 others out of 13) were in such an emaciated state, that they were not able to get into the Boat when the Shaw came alongside, having been 38 days in want of Food; they had made a temporary Wooden Hut, well secured to the Rigging, but open at top, and were found there chewing the Bark of a Spruce-spar, which had been their principal support, and had been without Water for several Days; what added to their misery, was seeing their fellow sufferers dying for want.” London: Printed for the Author; And sold by Asperne, Cornhill; Wilson, Royal Exchange; Christopher and Jenn Pit, Stockton on Tees; Chrippes, Piazza Library, Covent Garden; Badcock, Queen’s Head Passage, Paternoster Row; Smeeton, St. Martin’s Lane; Blachford’s Navigation Ware-house, 114, Minories; Parnell’s, 94, East Smithfield; Mr. Pells, Secretary to the Mara-time [sic] Cambrian Society, George Yard, Lombard Street; and by most respectable Booksellers in every part of the Kingdom. [verso of title: Entered at Stationers Hall. G. Smeeton, Printer. 17, St. Martin’s Lane, London]. [n.d., 1810?]. front. (folding plate, in fact counts as 3 plates, 35,  p., 1 illus. (p. 16), 8vo, contemp. half leather, marbled boards (bit rubbed, hinges weak), plate between p. 8-9 cut away, plates at end cut away, front. reinforced with acidic paper, the acid having affected the half-title, small tear and cuts to the plate, minor water-damage, small hole on p. 11-12 affecting one letter, still a good copy, binder’s label on interior marbled end-paper “J.B. Rolland, libraire, Montréal”.
Not in Sabin, T.P.L., Lande, Gagnon, Can. Arch., Vlach, Dionne, Stevens Rare 3, or any other bibliography we have consulted. WorldCat locates 3 copies only, the only one in North America being that of the Uiversité de Montréal, which only has the same plate as in this copy. WorldCat has the comment “imperfect, wanting all the plates excepting the sixth” (British Library copy). The University of Birmingham did not reply to our request for information about the completeness of their copy. There also exists a 4 p. variant with a different title at the National Library of Australia (maybe prior to this edition, if not a résumé thereof) and there exists a copy of an 1846 edition.
This copy is inscribed (supposedly in the hand of the author:) “To P.-L. [Pierre-Louis] Panet Esqr One of the Judges of the Court of King’s Bench Montreal”. The connection becomes clear on p. 22: “Wm. Thompson, who was sitting to leeward of the canvas, hearing some one call Thompson, Thompson, in a low tone of voice, looked out, and saw [Leon] Panet who had reached the futtock shrouds, but could not surmount the top, and was calling for help; but before it could be given him, fell backwards lifeless. By some means his foot remained fast in the rigging, which prevented him falling into the sea or on deck, and Thompson secured his body with a rope. Shortly afterwards Mr. Lyons died. … (p. 23:) “On the 16th we buried Lyons and Panet; we were constantly wet, and no fire to dry ourselves.” On p. 35 appears “A List of the Ships which Loaded at St. Andrew’s,” including the Adventurer of Whitby, Capt. Shaw, with a printed footnote that it was “The Ship Capt. Cook sailed round the World in.” A manuscript note mentions that the Triton “of Poole, John Reallons [Capt.] passed the Albion on the 9th of Febry 1810”.
John Kirby was born ca. 1854, probably in Seaton (South of Sunderland, near Seaham), in England. By 1810 he “assure[s] the reader that I had been many years in the Quebec and Montreal Trade, and had made a previous voyage hither [St. Andrew’s, NB], consequently acquainted with the difficulties attending it; and that circumstanced as we were [stuck in the ice], it required more than common exertion to put to sea, but the opinion of all was, that we should be better there than thus harassed in harbour” … They set sail on the 28th January with a load of lumber and a crew of 13, himself included; “the frost was severe, accompanied with snow and hail, which lying on the decks froze and became a foot in thickness;” … On the morning of February 6th, the carpenter informed him the ship had sprung a leak and was filling with water. Upon leaving his cabin he found the ship going down forward. He ordered the main mast “cut away to keep the ship before the wind and endeavoured to free her with both pumps”. After discarding and losing most of the rigging, the bower cable, the wheel, binnacle, compass, and everything else on deck, except for two spars and a few boards, they succeeded in righting the ship. At that point all had survived except for an apprentice who drowned.
On 9 February a ship approached giving the appearance of wanting to help them, but inexplicably she continued on her way after a certain time, leaving them to their lot. On 15 March, when there were but three survivors out of 13, the brig Shaw came to their help. They were so feeble they had to be hoisted on board. The Shaw arrived at Liverpool on 4 April.
Captain John Kirby, b. ca. 1854, was lost at sea in the brig “Whim” in 1814, on his way from Newfounrland to Liverpool, leaving on 2 January 1814 on a return voyage loaden with wood, as on the voyage described above. On that occasion, there were no survivers to tell the tale.
Léon Panet, b, in 1784, was the third son of judge Pierre-Louis Panet, and died during the shipwreck of the Albion.
The Montreal connection
- 1828 Manuscript struggle for responsible government
- 1790 Sanguinet Funeral Notice printed by Fleury Mesplet